County housing director overpaid for months before agency fixed issue

Finance director resigns in latest shakeup of Housing Authority of Bexar County

SAN ANTONIO – Financial records provided to the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm that the head of the Housing Authority of Bexar County was overpaid thousands of dollars per paycheck and took more than two months to notice the accounting error late last year.

The pay scale of HABC interim executive director Tammye Trevino was not adjusted for another three months, until March, in part officials said because the agency's finance director Eli Rodriguez refused to amend Trevino's pay unless directed to by the board.

The error led to Trevino receiving more than $9,400 in paycheck overpayments.

She was also paid a $373 cost of living increase that she was not owed, according to HABC records.

Trevino later paid back the agency $9,789.95 in a check dated March 21, 2018.

"I was in the middle of a move, and so I was living out of boxes. So it did take awhile for me to realize I had more money in the bank than I probably should have," said Trevino during an interview last month.

She said she approached Rodriguez in December after noticing the overpayments.

HABC officials confirm that Rodriguez resigned last month.

Rodriguez did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.

HABC board chairman Kirk Francis was adamant that Rodriguez's departure was not connected to the accounting mistake or the Defenders' request for financial records related to it.

Trevino was given an eight-month contract last fall to serve as HABC's interim executive director for an annual salary of $100,000, after previous executive director James Hargrove left the agency.

Trevino should have received around $4,166 per paycheck before taxes.

Instead, Rodriguez interpreted the contract as Trevino receiving $100,000 in eight months, meaning she got $6,250 per paycheck before taxes.

HABC board chairman Kirk Francis said he is not concerned that Trevino, whose salary is primarily  paid with Housing and Urban Development funds, took months to notice the overpayments.

"The other financial issues that she's brought, the issues that she cleared up that somebody else couldn't clean up in a year that she cleaned up in six months, or six weeks practically," said Francis.

When Trevino was asked if she suggested adjusting her pay scale without paying back HABC, she made the following concession:

"No, I don't think so. I mean I think had I told the board that might be an option? Maybe. But it wasn't anything that we seriously discussed."

Trevino then said she did not view the issue as a true overpayment and that she could have taken less money toward the end of the contract.

The revelation of Trevino's overpayments comes at a crucial time for the agency, as Trevino is one of eight applicants to become HABC's permanent executive director.

She is the fourth person since 2015 to serve as the agency's director in a permanent or interim capacity.

A federal audit in 2015 revealed that the agency misused $583,000 in funds over a nearly two-year period from 2012 to 2014.

Then director Albert "Buddy" Aleman eventually resigned, and the agency's board later went through an overhaul as well, including the appointment of Francis.

A Defenders investigation late last year revealed that HABC's operations coordinator tried to arrange a significant raise for herself 10 weeks after starting her position.

The employee, Amy Hopper, resigned hours after the Defenders requested emails related to the pay increase.

Officials confirm that Trevino's predecessor, Hargrove, was given $10,000 earlier this year in exchange for releasing HABC from all possible claims.

Trevino worked in community development in the mid-1990s and then created a non-profit.

Records show Trevino worked for President Barack Obama's administration from 2009 to 2017, first with the United States Department of Agriculture then with HUD.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.